The Art of Taking Unplanned Photos
Unplanned photography takes at its core the assumption that although people might be aware of the photographer's presence they either ignore it or become accustomed to it. Astute photographers blend in and are never obtrusive or in the way; they are often "invisible".
Shooting what you see and without having any influence on the scene are the two main things that make for good candid photography as should be strive for at all times.
Un-posed photography by definition is an art where the shots are not posed, subjects are unassuming and nothing is planned. This style is often referred to as candid photography.
A SLR (35mm) camera and a short to medium lens is often the only things that are required. Notice that I did not mention the use of a flash. A flash discharge immediately draws attention and if you are not asking permission beforehand, then your subjects may not be that happy.
Fast film should be used in preparation of encountering low light situations, or if shooting inside. Using a flash would destroy the very essence of this style of photography. Photojournalism has often been compared to this style of photography, but the latter is meant for capturing images as opposed to photojournalism where the intent is to tell a story, usually to support a news story.
However, for the purposes of selling the images a photographer should always try to obtain a model's release if the subject is recognizable or at the very least, the photographer should inform the subject that photos were taken of him or her and for what purposes.
Most un-posed shots involve a subject doing something routine, like a carpenter carefully measuring a piece of wood completely unaware of the photographer's presence. A photographer should always avoid taking photos of the back of a subject, ask permission if you need to , explain why you are there.
This would often be just enough to gather a friendly nod of acceptance. Don't forget children, they will most of the time quickly become aware of the photographer and that photos are being taken, but will forget about you just as rapidly too. Capturing their expressions of surprise, joy and amazement can often be the best ever candid photos. Nothing beats a big smile in a kid's face.
Always be alert, you will rarely get a second opportunity to retake the shot. Your purpose is to capture the essence of the subject's actions, mood, emotions. When people are concentrated on their daily routine they are at ease, and this shows in the photo. Sometimes when your subject is posed they can become tense, specially if they were unprepared to have their photo taken.
If your subject becomes aware of your intention to photograph them and start to pose, then take the shot as quickly as possible to minimize the chance for them to get nervous and rigid, after all no one appreciates their photo being taken if they are not aware of how they look. These things can't be planned.
A simple time tested technique is to hold the camera at the hip, set it to auto-focus and just walk towards the subject. It seems sneaky, but keep in mind that you are trying to capture an image whose subject is not aware that you are taking such photo. Some candid photographs seem posed just because the subject is looking at the camera.
They are still candid if the shot is taken at the moment the subjects looks at you, if given time then most people can't help but pose for the camera. However this style of photography does not mean that the subject cannot be looking at you, it just means that the photo is not posed.
Like most, this type of photography can be planned too, I know this seems contrary to what the genre is, but good photographs can be taken at planned events such as weddings, birthdays, sporting events, celebrations etc.
Specialty lens are widely available from spy shops. These are regular lens which have a separate mirror inside the lens that allows you to aim the camera one way but take the shot from an opening at the side of the lens. Caution when using these, it is always much more ethical and safer to be honest and upfront than to get what you want through deception. Just image having to explain yourself if caught using one of these lenses.
- 11 Tips for Better Candid Photography
Candid styles of photography are increasingly becoming popular both in general day to day photography but also in formal photographic situations. Last time I was asked to photograph a wedding the couple actually hired me purely to take paparazzi styl